Thursday, January 30, 2014
From Education Week:
A recent study by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano of The New School for Social Research in New York City argues that reading literary fiction (as compared with reading popular fiction, or nothing at all) temporarily enhances one's ability to understand others' mental states and deepens empathy. The study—published in the journal Science in October—grabbed a lot of attention, including a front-page article in The New York Times.
What makes the claim noteworthy is its scientific support. After all, the notion that reading literature has a civilizing impact has been with us at least since Matthew Arnold wrote on literary criticism in the late 1800s. And the idea that literary fiction is superior to popular fiction has been around for an equally long time.
You can read more here. I have long believed that reading teaches us about the human condition—important information if you want to grow as a person and relate to others. I remember a professional lobbyist telling me how important the classic Greek plays were to his professional development.